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Durham University



Publication details for Professor Amanda Ellison

Lane, A.R., Smith, D.T., Schenk, T. & Ellison, A. (2011). The involvement of posterior parietal cortex in feature and conjunction visuomotor search. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 23(8): 1964-1972.

Author(s) from Durham


Successful interaction with the environment often involves the identification and localization of a particular item. Right posterior parietal cortex (rPPC) is necessary for the successful completion of conjunction but not feature visual search, regardless of the attentional requirements. One account for this dissociation is that rPPC is primarily involved in processing spatial information. For target identification, conjunction tasks require that spatial information is used to determine if features occur at the same location, whilst feature search does not require such a process. This account suggests that if the requirement to localize the target is made explicit then rPPC may also be necessary for feature search. This was examined using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and by manipulating the response mode: participants were either required to press a button indicating the presence/absence of the target, or else had to point to the target. TMS over rPPC did not disrupt performance of the feature task when a button-press was required, but significantly increased response time and movement time for the same task in the pointing condition. Conjunction search in both response conditions was significantly impaired by TMS. Performance on a task which required pointing to a target in the absence of distractors, and thus did not involve visual search, was unaffected by rPPC stimulation. We conclude that rPPC is involved in coding and representing spatial information, and is therefore crucial when the task requires determining whether or not two features spatially co-occur, or when search is combined with explicit target localization via a visuomotor transformation.

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